Not Dead Yet Mfg. Inc., d/b/a NDY MFG, Inc. v. Pride Sols., LLC, No. 13 C 3418, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Sep. 19, 2017) (Pallmeyer, J.).
Judge Pallmeyer ruled on the parties’ cross-summary judgment motions in this patent suit involving stalk stompers — devices that attach to a tractor or combine to crush corn stalks before they damage the vehicle’s wheels.
Of particular note, the Court held as follows:
- The Court denied the parties’ cross-motions as to infringement of the ‘432 patent by the QD1 product because there were questions of fact remaining. While the Court held that the accused products did not have the required “plate member,” there was a question of fact as to whether the accused products’ shoe bracket functions in the same way under the doctrine of equivalents;
- The Court also denied the parties’ cross-motions as to infringement of the ‘963 patent by the QD1 product because questions of fact remain. The parties dispute centered around the “retention member” limitation. But the record contained sufficient evidence from which a jury could find the retention member either literally or, at least, under the doctrine of equivalents;
- Plaintiff conceded that defendant’s QD2 product did not literally infringe either patent. Plaintiff was estopped from making its doctrine of equivalents argument based upon prosecution history statements making during an Inter Partes Review (“IPR”);
- The Court denied plaintiff summary judgment as to defendants’ invalidity claims. because the Court held that the patent was not entitled to plaintiff’s claimed priority date. While defendants had not moved for summary judgment based upon the priority date, the Court invited a motion if it was warranted based upon the Court’s ruling as to the priority date;
- The Court held that it was too late for plaintiff to seek to strike defendants’ inequitable conduct pleadings for alleged insufficiencies. Plaintiff had ample time at the outset of the case to move to strike;
- The Court also noted that defendants’ failure to cite the Therasense standard was “disappointing,” but “immaterial.”;
- The Court held that there was sufficient evidence for a jury to infer plaintiff or its counsel actives with intent to deceive by withholding material information and, therefore, denied the cross-motions on inequitable conduct grounds; and
- The Court denied plaintiff summary judgment on its false advertising claims because defendants claims that they were “the original quick disconnect stalk stomper” were susceptible to multiple reasonable interpretations, as opposed to being literally false.